Standard Fanfic Disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, er, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. I will return them to their original owner relatively unharmed, or at least suitably bandaged. Naw, I'm lying. They'll be hurt, and no bandage can mend wounds of the heart. This is an amateur effort; no profit has been made from the writing beyond improving my typing speed, nor from the reading beyond - I hope - the reader's pleasure. This ficlet is debuting as 'netfic and has not previously been published in any fanzine or APA. Based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling; a missing scene.

Over a Glass of Firewhiskey

Susan M. M.

J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe

Severus Snape poured himself a glass of firewhiskey. "There are times, Albus, when I hate you."

Albus Dumbledore reached for the bottle and refilled his own glass. "What we're doing is necessary. There is no other way to stop Voldemort."

It was only with the greatest of effort that Snape managed to control the urge to flinch at hearing the headmaster speak the Dark Lord's name so casually. "So you say."

He had spied for Dumbledore, lied for Dumbledore, put his body in mortal danger and his soul in immortal danger for Dumbledore's sake. All to keep Lily's son safe - the boy who could have been his son, had he not been such a fool in his youth - all to keep Lily's son safe. He had agreed to kill his friend and mentor, to prevent his godson from becoming a murderer. And all in vain. All so Lily's green-eyed child could be slaughtered like a pig. No, like a lamb. A sacrificial lamb.

Snape wanted to protest that Harry Potter was an arrogant pest, an unspanked brat, but the boy deserved better than this. He was only a child. Lily's child. But Snape kept his mouth shut. He knew his words would fall on deaf ears. When Dumbledore was doing what he thought was necessary "for the greater good," nothing could turn him aside from his chosen path.

"Our options are limited, Severus. This is the best way to stop Voldemort." Dumbledore took another sip of firewhiskey. "It is necessary." Dumbledore did not bother to tell Snape that there were parts of his plan to which Snape was not privy. Snape was skilled at Occlumency, but Voldemort was a master of Legilmency. And almost any man, no matter how brave, could be broken under torture. It was safer that Snape did not know his whole plan... especially since he wasn't sure it would actually work.

Snape drained his glass and put it on the headmaster's desk. "Good night, Albus. Although if you can sleep nights with all that you have on your conscience, you're a stronger man than I am."

Dumbledore watched Snape walk out of his office, his black robes billowing behind him like a bat's wings. He raised his glass to his lips and let the burning liquid slip down his throat. It didn't help wash the foul taste away from his mouth. "Sometimes, Severus," he murmured to himself, "I don't like myself very much either."